Council approves policing deal

A new 20-year municipal policing agreement will give the City of Red Deer some more clout on how the RCMP serves its residents.

A new 20-year municipal policing agreement will give the City of Red Deer some more clout on how the RCMP serves its residents.

Council agreed to the agreement that must be signed by March 31 and which replaces the current 20-year deal. The city still has the ability to get out of the agreement, as long as it gives 24 month’s notice.

Community Services director Greg Scott said the agreement offers more local autonomy, which was an important issue within an extensive policing study that was finished last year. Council will be able to direct RCMP when it develops objectives and priorities with the community in mind, he said.

Coun. Paul Harris said the most exciting change will be involved in setting service standards for the RCMP. That would involve response times, for instance.

Insp.Warren Dosko, head of the Red Deer city RCMP detachment, said he recognizes how important it is to have some autonomy within the contract.

“And having heard from other communities as well, it’s been a really big theme in the whole negotiation process across Canada — this more autonomous ability to control policing.”

Dosko said the contract really spells out the “language” that is necessary to help communities have their say on priorities.

The 1.8 per cent cost increase is the average annual cost expected over 20 years. The proposed increase of about $270,000 to $300,000 for 2012 would either be absorbed within the current budget or be offset by the policing reserve.

Scott said the agreement maintains the 90/10 ratio where the city pays 90 per cent of the cost, Ottawa paying the rest.

There are some cost increases within the contract, including enhanced reporting and accountability.

“The contract is just being brought in line with some of the activities that are already occurring,” said Dosko. “We’ve been doing a level of reporting. I don’t see a lot of new changes.”

Coun. Chris Stephan was the sole opponent of the agreement.

He said the agreement is extremely costly — the city’s policing budget is around $20 million annually. With inflationary costs, he estimates this 20-year deal would come in at over half a billion dollars.

He’d eventually like to see a municipal police force.

“We know we have a crime problem,” he said. “It needs to be addressed and it’s not getting addressed as good as it should be right now.”

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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